2005.05.31

Damn it!

12.02.00 - Mark

This is not hacking. Its not really news either but I'll ignore that much. They let this online, they didn't fix the security hole, and the business students they're declining to accept are just the sort of cut-through do-anything-to-get-ahead bastards businesses love.

Fcsking morons.

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2005.05.30

Huh?

01.20.00 - Mark

"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts." Will Rogers

Now for a joke news item from Washington:

There is a resolution in the Senate to have a National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week? (Have I expressed my love of plogress.org RSS feeds recently?)

Not to offend anyone (could anyone be offended by this?) but what is the point? Honestly what's the point of celebrating colleges that support (or "historically" support) self segregation to some extent? Why not a day? Or an hour? And why bother throwing this in around September 11th other than to further marginalize any "celebrations" that might occur? Hell how would one celebrate that - let students of the relevant schools out for a week?

I just adore my elected officials (both my senators cosponsored the resolutions which has been passed into committee - when one would hope it dies)....

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2005.05.29

Ya Know What's Really Fucking Offencive?

23.01.00 - Mark

There's some news story floating around the web about some guy who said some derivative of the word "fuck" over the airwaves and someone seems to have fucked up and not bleeped out his usage of the word "fuck". I think its really fucking offensive that the offended rule this country's policy. This is fucking insane, when has a single word, especially one that runs off the tongue as easily as the word "fuck", stirs offended masses so much that they go off the fucking handle and start preaching the downfall of western fucking civilization. Its fucking insane. Do these fucking morons have a complete and total fucking lack of priorities. If the word "fuck" really going to do that much fucking damage?

I don't fucking think so.

Post inspired by Jeff Jarvis

PS I was thinking of audio-alizing this and making it a podcast, but all I really need to do is link to this (MP3, deal with it as you must - offensive to the offended)

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Pretty...

18.31.00 - Mark

I've got the new look for MountAiryNC.net up, for the most part. The style is down to seeing where anything gets mucked and fixing it but I'm pretty much finished with the proactive style changes (well minus adding a couple ad positions...). Really wasn't that hard, just had to sit down and find the right base to work with.

Next step is getting more content up, like help and info pages, put in some placeholder ads (as opposed to the ones that exist now) and then work out fees and bring in eyeballs and ad dollars.

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2005.05.28

Gorram Fraking Skin-Jobs

01.21.00 - Mark

A big, zarking long list of fictional curse words @ wikipedia.org - a number of these are actually slip into my real world speech...

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We don't need no stinkin' rules of engagement

01.04.00 - Mark

One of the New York Times's Tech columns is running a Mac vs PC debater's rules of engagement and I don't need (or want) any rules of engagement - I can and will throw low punches at Windows and Microsoft anytime I can. Then again I already comply with them - no grand (fubared) decisions based on a constantly changing field - I use both Macs and PCs (and usually know when something is borked) and I'm a part time UI wonk and I love Microsoft for what it is - a bunch of templates with text editors sold billions of times for hundreds of dollars a pop - and hate it for the same reason (its mindless templates, obnoxious wizards, and a security and usability nightmare)

Actually maybe I do need rules of engagement - to throw in the face of windows freaks...

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2005.05.27

Update to the Nutcase Baptist Story

01.42.00 - Mark

I was skimming though my RSS feeds and saw a post about the minister from Ed Cone (Powerblogger in the Triad) - Looks like the minister of the church was disavowed by the state Baptst commition - Cone also points out that this guy was a little wacky to start with and doesn't represent the views of his community - made clear when you realize that he wants (wanted) the state to amend its constitution so we can succeed from the union if he disagrees with the goons in Washington.

North Carolina really is a nice place - too bad that the ass-backwards portion of the state gets all the media attention...

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2005.05.25

Why Creative Commons Won't Take Off (for a while)

23.14.00 - Mark

I love creative commons - if I need to find an image for a project I browse though results from CC enabled search engines and the wonderful CC areas sites like fickr have set up. Unfortunately I don't see the commons taking off for a while. The MPAA, RIAA, and other assorted AAs have done nearly irreparable damage to free distribution, illegal or otherwise - despite the fact that CC and similar licenses (such as the slew of open source licenses) are widely accepted by these organizations.

Commoners don't get it. Not that they can't - its sort of like trying to explain to someone why you buy moleskine notebooks for $15 a pop as opposed to a 5 star mead for $3 or Why you buy a Mac or run linux when a dell is "$300 less" and "plays games" You can explain it and they'll sort of get it. Our culture puts a price on everything, and if you don't pay for it something is wrong - period. Others - usually the younger dumber ones who fail to see the point of morals and ethics (and vocalize about how such classes are a load of horse shit) think everything should be, and is, free

At least for a the larger group of people (which happen to be the more important ones in this situation) they need to pay. So when they see that CC - some rights reserved they really seem to see Copyright - All Rights Reserved : enforceable by law.

Which is why I can only see CC going so far. I hope, but don't think creative commons schemes and understanding will really reach a point where its a tornado* and we see it on CDs at Walmart, Books at Barnes and Noble or on TiVo Guides, let alone it getting to mainstreet.

Just like people feel like they need to pay, they feel the need to respect people's copyright, however lefted it may be. Most people see it as an all or nothing deal, and with so many lawsuits people seem to think everything is copyrighted and everything you have can get you sued unless you paid for it and can prove you paid for it. Its going to take a lot of people a lot of time to explain that attribution means - hey you can use this as long as you give this person credit in some form or shape when and where ever you use this - and you get to credit them how you like, or what exactly non-commercial quantifies or how strict is "no derivitives" is - can I resize it?

Despite its elegance and relative simplicity, its a hard concept for a lot of people to 1) become aware of and 2) grasp, and for a good while now, nothing I can see is going to change that. it doesn't mean I'm not trying tho'

Rant inspired by A bad Reuters story on Creative Commons, and two responses to it - one by Larry Lessig and a second at a.wholelottanothing.org

*(adoption has several phases - early adopters willing to do anything; chasm, where you have to sort out problems but there's some documentation from early adopters a barrier to implement; "bowling alleys" where you find niche markets but don't have the implementation problems; "tornadoes" which make it wide spread and then mainstreet which is simply adopted)

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Bleh

13.53.00 - Mark

Unfortunatly back in classes again - and to think my brothers just got out yesterday?

What really peeves me (as mentioned the other day as an online fit of anger) is that they cancelled one of my classes - one needed for my degree mind you. Then today I come into the not-cancelled one and I find out two things

First the book is different than it was. Which is partially my fault - I didn't double check. When they claimed they were going to have this as an evening class the book happened to be one already on my bookshelf. But as seems to be normal here at High School University they cancelled it (can't really fault them there - I was the only one signed up) So I mistakenly assumed that they couldn't possibly think of changing the book. Pfft! They did, to some other book published by the their favorite source of kickbacks educational material Thomson Course Technology. I have no clue why either. None of the books have been that useful and you can't resell them for anything (online or otherwise as I'm disgruntledly finding out)

Secondly this book is covering PHP5, which as best as I can tell isn't too hot in tech. Most server companies have been refusing to move too it because its really incompatible with 4, which is where nearly everything seems to be. I'll admit that I'm not that knowlegeable here, but if we really want to learn the bleeding edge why don't they just throw us at Ruby? Like I said I'm not really into the community (yet) but its really irratating havig to buy a book I wasn't execting to have to buy.

Other developing peeves include use of language while broken it is not it really reminds me of the carelessness use of language (and I'll admit I'm guilty of it) we so often see coming out of Washington. The Internet Tech Curriculum here really seems to have been haphazardly thrown together.

It took me a few weeks to get depressed about my classes during the spring semester - I don't think its going to take that long this summer...

If I cared more about stylzing this blog I'd upload some pretty, random images and place them in to break up the text - but I don't. I will be adding something similar in the Applescript blog software I'm messing around with developing (but I need to get it to open files first...)

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The Next Terrorist Attack

01.17.00 - Mark

After my speculation on how Jack's doing to save the (insert something bigger than the world) in the next season of 24, we will of course need a long long list of crazy terrorist schemes, kind of like this one (cockeyed.com is a lot of fun - certainly better than blowing kitties out of cannons)

As a side note I caught a glimpse of Fox's schedule for January 06 I forget where but House and 24 are on the same night - I'm going to be very happy (note to self clear schedule for all Monday nights between January and June...)

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2005.05.24

Hollywood - It's All Drama

19.57.00 - Mark

I really can't find myself feeling sorry for hollywood. At least not over the bittorrent thing. Doubly so for TV (which seems to be acting though the MPAA)

They have every major news outlet in America making a Big Fucking Deal out of how Revenge of the Sith slipped on onto the nets last week - so what if the files have been downloaded 50,000 times plus, which I might point out is only a few thousand more than then they started hyping it in the media (at the time hovering around 45,000)? Once it opened people went to see it, including I suspect a lot of the people who downloaded it. So are we forgetting about the $50 Million Dollar opening day? Or the additional 100 Million it pulled in over the weekend and Lucas knows how much over the next few weeks and months?

Then there's DVD sales - two words extra features. If its worthwhile people will pay. I'm not condoning downloading of movies, but at the same time I can't feel sorry for them.
The industry brought it upon themselves when they started giving Napster free advertising - then when they killed that Gnutella, then when that was spammed into uselessness - Kazaa - and when that was too virus infected for use eDonkey and Bittorrent. The funny thing is that none of them have gone for the source - newsgroups. Newsgroups remain the source because mass media hasn't hyped it, its unknown to them and by extension average joe sixpack

Its a grwoing problem because they make it one (for the most part - some growth is covered by viral marketing and word of mouth)

So BT isn't going to die soon, and if for some reason it does it won't matter much as a new format will take its place, learning from the mistakes made by its forefathers.

Of course they could take an even simpler route and stop delivering muck. I saw an article (Wired, June, it'll be online next month) that dreamworks is now pushing two big screen animated films a year for the next few years - eventually adding in a direct to video release / year. Sales have dwindled (fact in article), sharing has certainly gone up (speculation on my part) , but the opposite seems to be true of Pixar. Entertain us, not sell us out to the highest bidder, and maybe then we won't feel bad about sinking $20/person to see a film.

Not that they're really loosing money or anything at least not because of P2P nets

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Political Bloggering Time

07.41.00 - Mark

Because I'm gonna join a my brother and a friend in a Star Wars Viewing Party I'm going to post a bunch of political BS in this post, and the techie/oddities in another. Here goes:

This is a bad idea - and it certainlly shouldn't have passed in any shape or form. I'm now positive (more positive anyways) that the morons meeting in big white buildings (flat topped and dome topped) have not read the constitution - or at least fail to understands it. If they did they would know that the senate has these powers for a reason - namely that the house doesn't (balance of power isn't simply between the three branches - it exists within them as well) You don't need a politicking degree to know this.

This one shouldn't have passed either, not because it isn't good (we hate spyware - we hate ignorance more -more after the closing parenthetical) but because it already exists for the most part. The electronic wiretap laws they so hastily passed in the mid 80s to go after hackers more severely than their meat-world counterparts go there. There are already laws that include fraud and privacy (despite lobbyist attempts to repeal them) as well. So maybe they needed an amendment to bring them up to speed but holy shit we don't need Yet-Another-Brain-Dead-Law-That-Doesn't-Really-Do-Anything-Because-Noone-Knows-To-Enforce-It (patented, trademarked, and copyrighted) we need fewer clearer laws that we can actually, realistically enforce. Not that these things can be realistically enforced - as most spyware ceoms from Russia and other pleasant places where Our-Laws-Aren't-Worth-A-Crap

Then there's my favoritist ::) House Representative cum Senator Richard Burr, who wants his gun. To be honest, in this "age of terrorism" and the urgent needs to protect our government (got me there) why are we trying to restore the second amendment to Washington D.C.? Especially since the rest of us seem to be loosing 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, and 10th rights. Furthermore why on earth do they need an act of congress to do this. Anywhere else this would be local ordinance - am I missing or forgetting something here? (To be fair I've only recently subscribed to the plogress reports for my represenativies, Burr, Dole, and Foxx) To preempt ME's inevitable comment - maybe we should let them have it without a fuss - maybe they'll destroy themselves...

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Welcome to North Carolina - Part (crap which one is this?)

19.09.00 - Mark

More moronic regisious stances are coming out of North Carolina this week - apparently there's at least one church in the state that want's to flush more Koran's down the crapper.

There's no end to how many different ways this is wrong.

These are not American Values, World Values, Christian Values, Reasonable Values or any sort of values I'd like to think that people in this state want to hold.

Do they want this war to keep going on for no reason?

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Re: Filibusters

19.01.00 - Mark

I shouldn't have linked to the article I linked to earlier on Filibusters - the deal that was struck was somewhat closer to good politicking than most of the muck coming out of Washington these days - however I stand by the fact that the issue should not have been raised in the first place. If they really want to change the rules of the senate and rework the rest of the constitution - at least let us opt out of being part of the new bodge job you want to form

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2005.05.23

24

22.00.00 - Mark

jake saves the world! Again!

I liked this season. Really pretty ridiculious, someone or shot tortured in each episode - usually more than once and more than once the same person. While its a lot of fun to watch, is one of the shows that requires people to take the step from being entertained to being involved - tracking characters and following the same clues they do. I reached on of Jacks conclusions as fast as he did (the audio puzzle) which was certainly the intention of the producers. Anyways I like 24, and I like Jack (I even picked up Dark City partially because of 24 - and I loved that)

But still this season was a little ridiculous and I really hope they think about turning it down when it returns next January. I doubt it tho' as they put it

On the first Day he saved the president
on the second day he saved a city
on the third day he saved a nation
on the forth day (this season) he saved the world (huh? I don't think so - stopped some bad politics but the world?)
Blah blah blah - if you think this is the end - you don't know Jack.

So what the hell are they going to have him save? The Solar system? The Galaxy (Jack Bower meats MiB - has Will Smith signed on?) The Universe (Star Trek Can sign on here - or didn't Lucas say something about live action series - or the Beeb is looking to distribute Doctor Who in the US)? Or wait, maybe Jack can save himself - his ego is somewhat larger than the earth. Ohh Ohh maybe Jake is going to be an ecological terrorist freelance protector and save the oceans (saves the earth - which is certainly bigger than the political essence we can call the world)

I think I know why Dave Barry live blogs 24 - its way too much fun to speculate on what sort of outrageous and entirely improbable plot twists the writers of 24 are going to stick in.

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AAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

14.00.00 - Mark

* Throws fits of rage* -still in progress
* heads hole in door with head* - this is going slowly
* yells strings of explicatives at the top of lungs* -still in progress

(I'll explain later - if I don't get kill, maimed or arrested after this fit of very just anger)

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2005.05.20

Guess there are uses for wood pencils after all...

12.17.00 - Mark

These are pretty cool. I mean, the patterns aren't anything really new or different (spend a summer or two at a boy scout camp and you see a lot of these from leaders and scouts alike) but they fact that they're carved out of good old number 2 pencils is pretty amazing. I'm kinda tempted to try and do one myself...

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Beware...

20.36.00 - Mark

I think I have a new favorite quote:

"Beware of computer programmers that carry screwdrivers." Leonard Brandwein.

Its among a couple dozen new quotes on the quotes page, but I love it - its so applicable to my being.

Back to studying Apple Script (and planning some deranged knock off of Andy Ihnatko's Yellow Text - don't ask why)

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2005.05.19

Bored Animators

23.38.00 - Mark

Some people think a quality internet meme is shooting kittens out of cannons in mentally handicap flash games. Personally I like the old days when a good meme was a 2 meg animated gif, from some blog via digg

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More from the Moronic Local News

23.05.00 - Mark

Yet again I'm watching the local news cast (against my better judgement) and it looks like this week they're discovering bittorrent.

This time the reliable source is "some man" they talked to "who downloaded the DVD"

***watches segment***

Error 1 - you can't download DVDs as they suggested, you can download video, and even then its nothing more than the video - none of the extras found on most, and all modern, DVDs

Error 2 - they think that this is something big. If they were really reporting news they'd have mentioned that pirated - burned versions have been on the streets for a month - not days like the current bittorrent files

Error 3 - You do get something in theaters that you can't get with these pirated versions (which they suggested was the solution to this "problem") - quality (ok this is relative, most of the stuff produced in Hollywood is crap. I haven't seen the BT version so it could be high quality - I doubt this however). Sound and video quality tend to be a lot worse in the BT files because of compression, source files (which tend to be camcorders in the theater)

Error, or rather unmentioned item 4 - they didn't even mention Bittorrent or the tech used - they said you can pull this off websites - which is complete bullshit. Based on the numbers I've seen its been downloaded over 45,000 times equating to something around 57,430 GIGs of data (there are about 4 different torrent files up there - most are ~ 1.4GBs one is 700mb) I don't know what the BBC Yahoo or Google Serves up a day but I have a feeling they might have a problem with 60,000 GBs of traffic. Any website serving that much data a minute has got to be running on a cluster with optical lines - and the MPAA would have shut them down before they could have reached that point.

Then there are things they seemed to suggest but didn't cover, like they showed a handful of TV torrents but didn't mention that.

Gotta love local news casts. Completly useless except for entertainment value. But thats their goal isn't it? (see last weeks post on local media...)

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Support Venezuela

03.23.00 - Mark

Buy Gas from Citgo and support Venezuela Oil producers, rather than the middle east. From It's All One Thing (Which I forget how I found but is in my RSS reader anyways)

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Elsewhere Shall You Seek, If Excellence You Desire

02.38.00 - Mark

I'll admit I prefer Star Trek to Star Wars, but I'm a Sci Fi Geek first and foremost. And If you bother looking at the time stamp you can probably guess that I got back from a midnight showing for Star Wars Episode III : Revenge of the Sith a little while ago. I didn't really plan on going tonight, just sort of happened that way. I dropped by in time to see some High School (morons) beating each other over their heads with plastic rods light sabers. Fortunately I don't think the fate of the universe will ever fall into their hands. I went home but before long I went back and bought a ticket (someone had told me they were sold out as of Wednesday Afternoon - but they were wrong) This is Mount Airy so there weren't any really great costumes, but we did get a midnight showing, on two screen, and it drew most of the 16 to 35 Male demographic in the area. I'll let someone else decide if thats a good thing or a bad thing.

Anyways the movie was good, especially for the demographic it drew (with their unquenchable thirst for violence) but for the few of us who care about quality, story, twists and turns it really did leave a lot to be desired. Not so much that it was a bad film (it wasn't) but a victim of bad sequencing.

Stop reading at the end of this paragraph if you are completely oblivious to the Star Wars Series and wish to be entertained. Its not a specific spolier (not in my book at least) and its pretty obvious, but you've been warned. Like thats going to stop anyone.... (Which is a short way of saying you can keep reading if you are at least familiar with the general plot of the series, which means a vague idea of what happens in each of the 5 previous films.)

There is a scene in the movie that should make you sit on edge, upright, and that causes you to grip the arm rests so tightly its a wonder that they don't break. A scene where you know that if you blink, you'll miss it all and will have to suffer though your friends telling you how amazing it was tomorrow or you'll have to put up another $10 to see it again. A scene that geeks will no doubt play frame by frame so that they can memorize the moves so they can reenact it at the next big fandom event them attend. A scene that is pivotal to the movie, nay the series - and that is its downfall.

This scene is of course the climax (this isn't a spoiler its simply logic), and to anyone who knows even a little about Darth Vader's past and something about his black suit and respirator knows what this scene must, and does encompass (again logic). Which keeps you comfortably relaxed in your chair - not on the edge or crushing the armrests - and takes off some of the tension since you know that if you miss a frame you can still talk about how cool it was over the water cooler in the morning (early afternoon rather - it was a midnight showing after all). Geeks will still do the frame by frame and memorization but nothing is or was going to stop that.

There are more examples of how in any other movie, or if it was released in its proper order, scenes would blow your mind, or at least really suck you into the story, but because this was a prequel to the edisodes IV, V, and VI as well as a sequel to I and II there wern't a lot of twists and turns that could be taken by the creators. So in the end it was simply OK on its own, useful to those of us have already seen much, most or all of the series, and wonderful for the next generation of SciFi geeks (who choose to watch Star Wars in Episodic order and not by release dates) Its sort of weird really, for me it wasn't great, but to the generation behind me, or those new to the series, its surely going to be a wonderful thing - except to some cultural anthropologist in a few hundred years who is going to scratch their head over why someone would release the end of a series before the beginning.

A lot of people said the same problem happened to Shrek 2 - had there not been a Shrek 1, Shrek 2 would have been amazing. Law of diminishing returns or something like that.

Anyways - time for sleep (after another quick post I meant to put up yesterday)

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2005.05.16

Deja Vu All Over Again

11.52.00 - Mark

Why is it that "news" doesn't need to be new? I don't mean the 3 day old news you see in local media (not exactly at least) I mean people swarm around "new" cool items that, a few days/weeks/months/years/decades? ago they were swarming over.

For example Boing Boing is linking to an xray image of a powerbook and because boingboing is linking to it, scads of other websites are linking to it this week including Macslash, except this image circulated the web 4 years ago - and like now Macslash is linking to it. They're not the only one. I see this all the time in varying periods of time, but its still irritating, especially when it clogs up my RSS reader with extra noise.

This example is certainly the longest I've seen, but I think the long-tail needs retooling. I think it needs to be more like a roller coaster (the nice simple ones that go up and down like a diminishing sine-wave but with a longer shallower valleys)

It almost makes me want to jump into Bayesian Filtering Technology and apply it to RSS feeds so I can easily plot this over time. As best as I can tell it takes 4 to 6 weeks for it to cycle though (major site, blogs, podcasts, "mass mediums" (local news, comics, print op-eds) and back to the long tail to settle assorted debates within petty bloggers)

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PERLy Nights

08.40.00 - Mark

I've been on this construction binge this weekend. Like patching that BFH that was keeping my room at sauna like temps, helping a grill stay in one piece a little better, fixing a couple door knobs etc. Nothing really techie, but useful none the less.

Unfortunately I am a techie and I was getting the urge to do something technical. Well while I was working on the doors I was listening to an interview with Paul Graham and he made a comment about Perl being one of the next really cool languages.

This kind of gave my inner geek a warm and tingly sensation since one of the classes I just finished up (Programming and Logic) gave me a quick intro to Perl. Aside from the common usage of the weird key strokes the language requires (most of them do so its pretty much a moot point) I really liked coding but outside of class didn't have a lot to do with it (I know I could go to an OSS project but well umm meh.). The comment also reminded me of a parallel port driver for perl that circulated among some of the blogs I subscribe to a week or so ago.

I'll leave out the list of art/design/gadget blogs that are constantly posting cool digitally controlled light displays, but suffice to say I've drooled over many of the projects.

Anyways. These last tree paragraphs set the stage for my sub-genius project idea.

Giant binary clock.

I'm not entirely sure about the physical aspects of it, like looks, materials, CPU and electronics, but looking at the driver it was pretty easy to tell that I needed the output in mind. Since I wasn't sure perl could do what I wanted I needed to code. So I went out and dug up some decent perl function documents (because while I still have my book on Perl from class, its 5 years old and doesn't cover any of the time functions I needed). After a couple hours of coding and some debugging I had a simple digital binary clock. In the mean time 5AM had snuck up on me

I know it isn't the most effective solution (hours minutes and seconds are all processed in each cycle, I could make it a tighter program if I made the hour and minute conversion increase based on the seconds), but it works and doesn't seem to eat up that much of my processor's cycles (what it does to a P2 or an old desktop mac is yet to be seen) Anyways I'm posting the code for your enjoyment and perusal. Feedback welcome, I'd put in one of those geek friendly OSS licenses, but I'm too lazy to find the one I want.

As noted in the code I'm still cooking up how the hardware portion should work. What kinda of has me is that I only have 8 pins to work with, possibly 9. Avoiding the use of ICs I'm fairly certain that I'll need to use 6 pins to turn on the lights within each column, then use the remaining 2 to change to the other columns. Additionally I need to find a way to make the lights stay on as the program adjusts the other columns. I'm sort of leaning towards a transistor and capacitor solution, but there are some other options out there. I'll research that later. For now I'm happy with my code, especially since its probably easier to read (and comprehend) than this blog post at this point.

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Wine Online

16.22.00 - Mark

Some states have had a law prohibiting out of state wine shipments for a variety of bullshit reasons, one of the main ones being "protection of minors". Thank you nut jobs. Fortunately the supreme court stuck these laws down today

These laws make it harder to send wine as a gift, and can severely impact sales. There is at least one situation where a visitor to this region fell in love with some of the local wines and because direct shipment was illegal he had to give up on the wines or (which he did) rent a u-haul, a lot more wine then drive it home. However not everyone is going to drive a trailer full of wine 1000 miles so for wineries direct shipments are potentially very important sales mechanisms.

Now what on earth could be more important that helping local businesses thrive? Protecting minors! Which in this case in nonsense. As someone who is "underage" (and annoyed as hell about it) and who has had some wine I know I like it and because it wasn't some big frelling taboo to me I know that it should be used in moderation. As I've pointed out before the United States in one of the few nations with a serious drinking problem and one of the few nations that has its age limit at 21. So we don't need to be protecting minors our society should ease them into adulthood.

Secondly any teen that wants to get drunk is going to, and here's a little hint, they aren't going to be using a credit card, and they aren't going to be buying wine, and they sure as hell aren't going to wait up to 10 business days while their alcohol is transported in the back of a brown truck to their doorstep where there's at least a decent chance that someone not them is going to discover their drinks. No they are 1) going to break out the parent's stash or 2) are going down the street to the quickiemart for a 6 pack of the cheapest paintthinner beer their fake ID can buy.

Anyways the balls back in the 50 states hands, so inevitably a few do-gooders are going to try and stop all direct shipments (in this case I can't pick on the religious right, since many of them support alcohol - like the current pope, who had a couple hundred liters of his favorite brew delivered to the Vatican or Jesus, who gave up water for a nice glass of vino)

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2005.05.15

Wrong Tools and Wrong Places

19.25.00 - Mark

***VENTING***

I'm pretty sure that even MacGyver couldn't get anything done at my household. We don't stock anything. I'm constantly looking for a close approximation to whatever it is I really need because 1) we don't have it and 2) if we do have it no one knows where the fuck it is and its going to take less time to find a close match that find the real thing (however not much less time, it kind of loops itself down to the point where I'll improvise with a block of wood, some paperclips and some function of my pocket knife - I wish I was joking about this)

Example 1 -

Despite central cooling everywhere else in the house my room lacks it so we've got a window unit in a fake wall with liquid dripping into a rusty coffee can. Except when we put it in we didn't close up the fireplace. So I can run it full bore and still not cool the room down. This was keeping me from getting a good night's sleep which is probably the best way to motivate me to solve just about any problem known to man. So I resolved to fix it, and my planned solution should have taken 50 minutes as most of the lumber was already the right size (but 25 minutes to cut it anyways) and about 20 minutes to drill 6 holes and screw in as many cement screws, and about 5 minutes to cut some insulation and put everything together.

At least one would think. In reality, thanks to the way things work in my family, it took the better part of 5 very long hours.

It took forever to find the right drill bits (had to go into concrete) so that ate up an hour, and when it broke it took another 30 minutes to find another one, 20 minutes to find the screws, a a good while more to find the drills, saws, hammer, pliers, utility knife, insulation, bubble level, tape measure, trash bag, and broom that the project eventually demanded. This of course is all on top of the time that it actually took to complete the project.

I went though the same mess while I was fixing the grill a little while ago. One of the legs was constantly falling off anytime the thing is moved so the nice, simple solution was drill three holes and put in three machine screws. Aside from going out and buying the machine screws (because while we have buckets of the things, it was a lot faster to spent half an hour going to the hardware store and paying the $.91 then spending an hour sorting though the buckets to find 3 that were a near match) this wasn't a problem. I had already found all of the drill bits I needed. This problem came up when I cut myself while tightening the screws. A small cut isn't supposed to be a major hassle, clean it up, stick on a small bandage, and go back to work. Again not here. Not only could I not find a bandage smaller than 3"x3" I couldn't even find some tape to improvise one. Even after looking for my first aid kit (which is usually squired away from the rest of the family so that it stays well stocked) someone had found it and hadn't simply used and replaced what they needed, they had left the trash in the with everything else.

Grr.


Not that it mattered at that point - the bleeding had stopped.

Its impossible to explain how irritating this it, and complaining/talking about it is beyond pointless. All it will succeed in doing is ensuring that "small bandaids" is added to the list of crap to buy at walmart. What it needs to say is "decent first aid kit"

***VENTING OVER***

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2005.05.13

Come Again?

23.23.00 - Mark

Why are we selling air conditioners with color panels? (Yes its a damned flash intro but watch it anyways). Why must everything follow in the foot steps of the G3 iMacs and iPod minis? Furthermore its a fracking AC unit. Who really gives a damned about its color?

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Gotta Love That Bias

23.01.00 - Mark

I don't know why I even bother posting this, but the local media sucks. I mean they don't understand fair or balanced. The don't even seem that concerned with news.

Case in point, watching the local CBS news they've already covered a court decision to keep "In God We Trust" on some government building. In the same spot they showed interviews with 5 people that supported the decision, one where something to "I don't think you'll find anyone in the county that disagrees with this decision" was uttered. I'll let you speculate on how many people they bothered to find who disagreed with the decision (actually so will I, since they didn't air any)

I guess they spent more time trying to figure out some clever way to do the following segment (which involved one of the talking heads sitting in a life guard stand at some YMCA and a really cheesy zoom out from at least 150 feet) than bothering with those pesky things - like "journalism" or "research"

I don't get my news from the local outlets. I've seen the guts of a newspaper. Media coverage means entertainment. Badly executed entertainment with random stories that pop up from the AP for filler, or at least lines for the actors. If you really think that local news coverage is anything more than a quick dirty dramatization, ask yourself - why are they advertising what stories they'll air "Monday, during the 11 O'Clock News!" - seriously. If its really their so-called "News" why isn't it airing tonight, not in 72 hours?

Because its entertainment. Anyways I'm going to go check my feeds, because I don't need to wait until Monday to get my news...

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Don't Wash Your iPod

18.43.00 - Mark

Some kid blew up an iPod with a screw driver after it went though the wash

The moral of this story? Don't wash the freaking iPod. (What you think an explosion is going to keep me from opening an iPod?)

And blogger has some dumb word verification on this page. It better not be there for the next post

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Pomp and Circumstance Hacks

18.36.00 - Mark

Why didn't I think of this last year? As much as I hated that school I would have done this in an instant. I could have used school computer parts to do it as well...

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Mount Airy Lists

01.09.00 - Mark

This looks promising. Brad and Emma are both great writers, and their existing blogs are usually pretty good reads. I go by there every couple of days (because they don't have Atom feeds enabled) Sarah isn't as regular a blogger as the other two but the three of them are all really smart, and really funny (although the humor isn't always the of the mainstream variety) Anyways its promising, Kinda reminds me of 5ives or 43 Things Not that there's anything wrong with that, I mean Technorati scans nearly 10 million blogs, what's one more? Thats supposed to be the point of blogging, another voice.

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2005.05.12

I was right!

16.57.00 - Mark

Sort of.

I've had this theory (end of first paragraph) that once gas prices are high enough, Walmart, everyone's favorite evil superpower superstore will collapse.

Well I'm right!

Walmart posted its earnings as well as some warnings for the rest of the year. They still made money, but they missed estimates, and - they're blaming it on gas prices.

From CNN Money

"A case in point is Wal-Mart, which rattled Wall Street Thursday. The retailer reported higher profits but the numbers missed Wall Street forecasts, and it warned about the rest of the year, blaming higher gas prices and weather.

Wal-Mart executives have repeatedly warned that higher gas prices weigh more on its customers, most of who live paycheck to paycheck."


Analysts say its probably more than that, like the painfully long lines during The Walmart Social Hour (which is 21 hours long and ends long enough for the illegal aliens to restock the shelves from 11:00 to 2:00), what appears to be corrupt internal structuring, and the lack of quality and/or popular products, like the iPods they supposedly stock but don't (although you're more than welcome to try and buy the overpriced ipod accessories that they do).

What I would do to have a Target, or maybe a Costco within 20 minutes of here

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2005.05.10

Yum. Irony

01.13.00 - Mark

A former RIAA goon is now complaining about the DMR fuckups she helped spawn a couple years ago. Specifically how Apple isn't playing nice, which is Bullshit. None of the schemes she claims are "compatible" really are. About the loosest connection you can make is that they don't work with the iPod. Her last line really proves how disconnected she really is. Lots of people are complaining about DMR, we don't want it because it takes otherwise nice standards and then shoots them to hell.

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2005.05.09

Two Down Three To Go

11.57.00 - Mark

Exams have been finished meaning all thats left of this semester is selling my books and getting my grades. Neither one I'm particularly excited about (book selling because I'm lazy, grades because I know my Engrish grade is going to suck ass because of a group project that ranks among the worst failures I've ever been involved with EVER.)

Sadly I've made a decision about my Summer and its the one I didn't want to make. Now I need to do some clean up. Which is another task I don't want to deal with, but will.

Messes aside it is a wonderful day, certainly one of those dozen or so days a year that you suffer though the other 350 for. Clear, crisp, sunny sky with a comfortable temp floating around 70. If you can't remember the type go download and listen to some Caribbean Free Radio. (cuz that's what I cued up on my iPod driving back today and it fits perfectly)

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NC, its not for lovers

17.40.00 - Mark

NC has an unending list of oddball law related to people living their lives. Not only can they deny the marital status of a couple who have moved into the state, they can also charge those individuals with adultery for living in the same house after they refuse to accept the validity of the marriage.

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2005.05.08

The nice thing about Mac Hell

19.07.00 - Mark

North Carolina is nearly a no Mac zone. I mean they are out there but they're pretty few and far between. I mean up until today I think I might have snatched 2 Macs in as many years, one was a classic, the other a mostly borked 6100. Nothing compared to the dozens I managed to pick up in Iowa.

On the other hand because there are no Macs there are very few Mac knowledgeable techies. So when Macs "break" they usually get tossed.

So a sharp eyed mac user can sometimes fid them on the curb, like what I did today. My latest addition to the collection is a 6500/250/4GB/32MB/CD/Zip nothing really special beyond that but I have a processor upgrade, a TV card, and possibly a stick of RAM for it. There's a chance that with a little investment for some more RAM and a hard drive I could have a semi usable home theater system, or at least a fairly qualified server

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2005.05.07

Its beginning...

21.23.00 - Mark

Churches are seriously getting into politicking, so much so that if you don't agree you will be voted out of the church.

Welcome to North Carolina

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2005.05.06

Sad Observations

23.19.00 - Mark

People are getting into podcasting. I don't mean the assorted geeks who got it to take off a few months ago, I mean the mindless drones who are learning about it though CNN and the New York Times and really making it rocket.

This is the point where most would go into how this is a good thing. Except it isn't a good thing. At least not for content.

The people who have been listening to podcasts since before January 1st 2005 often cite the fact that some of these programs have really great content. Many do, like Slacker Astronomy, The Rock and Roll Geek Show, Evil Genius Chronicles and the somewhat deceivingly named IT Conversations. Yes, they are unregulated, which means they can and do include things that if broadcast over the air would incur outrageous fines, but they use this to improve content, not as an excuse to produce it.

The problem with the masses is that, and the commercial broadcasters know this, the Unwashed Masses Want Filth.

That's why the Howard Stern Show is the way it is and why morning shows get off by prank calling old women and why we have shows with Bubba the Love Sponge. Its the same on TV. "Reality" shows didn't come about because people want to see how everyone else acts in outrageous situations, they came about because 1) its hard to come up with reasons for good looking people to eat assorted live animals, 2) its hard to come up with reasons for good looking people to be more un than dressed and 3 (which is an afterthought item for the studios) Script Writers and semi-competent actors are expensive.

The only reason we don't have "reality" movies is because pr0n (typed that way because I'm tired of google directing perverts my way) is permitted on the big screen.

As far as the masses are concerned Podcasts are to Radio what Reality Shows are to TV. Quick easy ways to give the masses filth without any of that regulation bullshit.

Dave Winer might complain about not being credited with inventing podcasts, but I wonder how much he'd like being credited with bringing more filth to the masses.

Hopefully podcasting will evolve and get past this "lets sell out to the masses by producing crap!" phase and get back to what's really special about the medium, original, intellegent content that doesn't need a listenership numbering thousands to thrive. Of course I'd like to say the same thing about blogs, but the fact is there are millions of people who don't have anything to say but want a blog anyways...

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Spamalot - The Shorened Bastardized Preview Version

16.18.00 - Mark

Matt got his Spamalot soundtrack today. He already ripped it and by the time this post will be typed out so have I. As I'm listing it has most of the great songs from the play, but its really rapid fire. I mean the songs are blurring together, it also lacks the type of jokes found in The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer for the Film of Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail (Executive Version) - like this is Side B or Bomb threat. So really its just a short preview version of the play, minus most of the Python-esq humor and dialog.

While I'd recommend you see the play sooner than possible I'd also recommend you get the CD, mainly because you will have the song "He is Not Yet Dead" and/or "The Fisch Slapping Song" stuck in your head, and short of seeing the play a dozen times, you will not be able to remember the lyrics, therefore ensuring the non-python fans will deem you as psychotic.

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2005.05.05

Backlogs

01.21.00 - Mark

I am seriously getting lazy with this blog. I used to just throw shit up and didn't give it a second though bar comments and bonehead mistakes (usually pointed out in comments) Now I'm starting to amass posts and items to post.

Here's one of those items:


Circa April 12th 2005.



I found/made it at stortroopers.com, it is a flash avatar creation tool that was buzzing around the web at the time. Its CC licensed, but I don't know that I wouldn't post it reguardless. Its kinda neat, and I bet most people can get pretty close to themselves if they choose (I did, sort of)

Anyways with luck I'll remember to sync the idisk and then stick this online before another month goes by.

This would have been up sooner but I was doing some more work on the portfolio viewer for one of my web classes. Its still sort of messy, won't render perfectly in all browsers, and is very graphics intensive, but I needed it online somewhere and needed it now. As I don't know how much layout work I'm going to get done on it before its due I figure I may as well share. More content will be added to it soon, and it will likely be moved away from the linked position. After exams finish up I'll revamp it build some more navigational/informational elements, hopefully pretty quickly, and build it into the .mac site.

And going back to the backlog part of this post (which I created between classes Wednesday morning), I'm going to try and get better about clearing any queues I may be developing. Its a blog - I don't need or want to do that much editing/self-censorship.

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2005.05.04

Ugh...Recruiters

19.42.00 - Mark

If you're in that age range that the military is drooling over then you really understand how desperate they're getting to fill the ranks. I just got another call from recruiters a little while ago and I'm not sure if they're got me on a "call again" list or if the numbers are really that bad. I forget the branches that have called me I know the first was a moronic jughead who after talking to me probably went off to find a Dictionary. There have been more but this time it was the Army, and this guy wasn't nearly as bad as the rest of the recruiters who've pestered me in the evening.

Most want to confirm that I'm capable of respiration, many want to tell me about how I can travel the world and continue my studies and how they can pay for everything.

I didn't get that vibe from this guy. He seemed more passive and displayed some level of intelligence when it came to asking me questions (more along what I want to do). I passed a couple of potential holes for him to exploit (like "a job better than flipping burgers" which recruiters tend to jump at), but thankfully he didn't. More shocking is that I only had to repeat "not interested right now" a couple times, as opposed to a few dozen times.

I'd still prefer to have my name removed from the list, but since I can't I'd much rather deal with these more passive recruiters than the tele-marketer like proactive pain in the ass.

I support our troops. I have a deep respect for military servicemen and woman (2 uncles formerly in the service, one served/serving as a consultant and at least one good friend sign up after high school) But as I have pointed out in the past, supporting our troops does not mean supporting our government in an unjust war.

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Way to go Brazil

01.18.00 - Mark

In the 6th grade I did a big research project on Brazil. I mean this project was bigger than most of the "major" college writing assignments I've received from the local High School University. At the time I thought Brazil was pretty cool.

Now they're amazing. Well beyond the world curve for any rate nation.

In the early days of personal computers, due to some weird import export laws, they basically had to reverse engineer everything from scratch. Sometimes they did a better job than we were. A famous example was the Macintosh Clone they made that, at the time, was faster than the systems Apple was producing. I have a deep respect for any culture that supports technology though creation and not consumerism. Brazil has been leading that march for 20+ years now.

Today the government was/is one of the largest nations to fully adopt and encourage open source software. Everywhere. Most nations are still supporting commercial (read Microsoft's) products and only want open source goodies for minor tasks - if that.

In addition to their culture of creating they also have the balls to stand up and tell Bush and his brigade of religious right to piss the fuck off. Bush's regime is offering the same AIDS/HIV care package to Brazil that they were pushing on Africa a couple State of the Union Addresses ago. Like with Africa the deal comes with strings attached - the nation in question needs to develop the no-abortion, no prostitution, no sex no fun stance the religious right, health eating extrememists and Voluntary Human Extinctionistswould want everyone on Earth to take.

Of course Brazil said no, because unlike scads of other US territories countries, they really want to maintain their self rule. Really admirable. Reminds me of a not so ignorant/arrogant United States actually. Additionally, and the article doesn't mention it (few mass media items do because of the "morality" issue) but Brazil's approach of making sex safer is the right route to go. Most people don't know what actions have the highest risk of contracting AIDS/HIV (no the answer isn't as simple as "sex"), at least until after they contract it at which point the knowledge is all but useless.

Sorry for not posting yesterday - I dove into a webdesign project that I like so much it quickly went beyond a school project and after exams will be incorporated into the rarely updated main site. (think along the lines of a much needed portfolio page).

and yes that might mean I go in a fix some of the existing css code while I'm at it

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2005.05.02

Things to do with the American Peso

09.25.00 - Mark

Money Origami is a mildly fun waste of time. I did a couple last week when I first found it, but you really want to use a crisp dollar, not a ratty formerly wadded up on.

The other fun use for some coinage is make a ring (original instructions are offline, but there are mirrors linked to in the comments). I did this hack over the weekend with a quarter. Only fits over my pinky finger and since I didn't have any coins that predate 1965 at the time it leaves a nice green circle around the finger I wear it on. On an interesting note, if the US dollar gets any weaker, it's going to make more sense to get a pound of pennies and melt them into bulk copper than it is to keep tham as currency. (1LB of pennies = about 181 pennies, the going price for 1LB of copper on the London Metal Exchanges is about $1.50)

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Reason 327 I Don't like Mass Media

08.42.00 - Mark

They spend too much time thinking up clever headlines for the badly reported stories they rip off the wire. Kinda like these guys

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Dancing on toes which are dancing on toes

17.39.00 - Mark

I'm not the least bit surprised by this post at the Volokh Conspiricy, which simply points out that the current bills in front of congress that would make spyware illegal, are, (get ready to be shocked) entirely redundant.

I'm too lazy to fact check, but its not like congress is oblivious to existing laws - I mean just last week they passed a law that makes it legal to fast forward though a commercial (or objectionable portion of a movie) of corse they made that redundancy possible by making it a felony to carry a device capable of video recording into a theater (like your brand new camera phone). I don't know if they simply aren't that smart or if they really hate those idiots who have loud conversations on their cell phones in the middle of the movie.

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